Ken Griffey Jr. & 1 on each of 29 other teams to Wear #42 on Jackie Robinson Anniversary
The Cincinnati Reds outfielder called baseball commissioner Bud Selig and got permission to wear the retired number for the one day. Major League Baseball then invited players on other teams to do the same.
Baseball plans to honor the anniversary before a game between the San Diego Padres and the Dodgers in Los Angeles. Robinson played his first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947.
Griffey wore No. 42 on the 50th anniversary, and thought it would be appropriate to do it again. Baseball retired the number 10 years ago as a way of honoring Robinson's contribution to the game.
"I called Bud because it is retired, and we talked about it for a few minutes," Griffey said. "He said he'd call me back. He just wanted to make sure it was OK with everybody. It was.
During his phone conversation with Selig, the commissioner raised the idea of allowing other players to wear No. 42.
"He asked me did I mind?" Griffey said. "I said no. I think everybody should be able to wear it, whoever wants to wear that number."
Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera is the only active major leaguer still allowed to wear No. 42 on a regular basis.
Selig expects players on other teams to follow Griffey's example.
"This is a wonderful gesture on Ken's part and a fitting tribute to the great Jackie Robinson and one, I believe, that all clubs will eagerly endorse," Selig said in a statement. "Jackie continues to be an inspiration to all of our players, and his impact will be felt for as long as our game is played."
Every game on April 15 will honor Robinson in some way. The Reds are playing the Cubs in Chicago that day."
- AP story by Joe Kay filed in Cincinnati, 4/04/07, published in the Akron Beacon Journal